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Clanfield and Bampton Historical Society

Archive 2012-2013

Feb 19 Researching Family History. Tony Hadland


Television programmes like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ have sparked a huge interest in family history, but knowing where to start the research will have deterred many from even trying to find out about their ancestors. Those of us lucky enough to hear Tony Hadland’s talk on the subject now know there is almost an embarrassment of riches, so many possible sources both in written archives and, in recent years, on-line, but as Tony said, the best way to start is at the beginning. ‘It is vital not to miss the obvious,’ he said. ‘Talk to your parents, grandparents and other relatives and write down all you learn. Listen to them talking to each other, maybe after a Christmas dinner when a glass or two of sherry has loosened their tongues! A lot of what they say may be family myths, but these often contain a grain of truth’. Tony also suggested going through as many old family letters, documents and photographs as possible ‘before they are thrown out’. From then on the possibilities for research are almost endless, both in person at somewhere like the National Archives at Kew, or local registers; using the growing number of on-line organisations (of which he said his own favourite was or, for us, joining the Oxfordshire Family History Society ( In a talk which was as entertaining as it was informative, Tony gave many examples of what he described as the ‘jigsaw’ of researching family history from his own experiences. And, brave man, he said that anyone who needed extra help could email him at I hope he is prepared for a flood of enquiries

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